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White Sox, Chris De Luca and Chicago Sun-Times v. Jay Mariotti

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It's been a little over 24 hours since the news became official that Jay Mariotti was leaving our paper. Even though we at Sports Pros(e) were aware of the situation, we thought it best to hold off on anything Mariotti related until some of the dust had settled.

Why air our dirty laundry for the rest of the world to see, we wondered.

And then today happened. More and more details surfaced by the hour, each one seeming to be more salacious than the one that preceded it. The icing on the cake is Chris De Luca's article that will be in your morning editions.

After reading this, we feel comfortable putting all the cards on the table.

The first part of the piece deals with the White Sox' reaction to the news that Mariotti had resigned. The oft-criticized Ozzie Guillen chimes in with his thoughts:

"''When people wish the worst on people, you have to be careful because the baseball gods are going to get you,'' Guillen said. ''He was not asking just for my job, he was asking for thousands and thousands of people's jobs over the years. I'm not going to say I will get the last laugh because I will get fired from this job. But the day I get fired is the day I lose interest in this game.


''Am I enjoying this? Yes, because he tried to make my life miserable. He did everything in his power to make my life go the wrong way, but he didn't make me miserable because I don't believe him. Maybe if somebody else wrote that stuff about me, then I would put attention on it. And that's what he wanted. He wanted attention. He has to thank me because I gave him a lot of [stuff] to work with. I know I helped him the last four years to make his money, and, obviously, he did not help me at all to make my money.''

Guillen's words are not surprising considering the long-running war of words between the White Sox manager and recently-departed columnist. But it's what De Luca writes next is far more telling, remarkably candid and like nothing I can recall seeing in a paper in a long time:

"Mariotti spent the better part of his first day divorced from the Sun-Times acting like a scorned lover. He wants you to believe there was a greater principle involved -- one that somehow loomed larger than his ego. He wants you to believe that newspapers -- specifically the two biggest ones in Chicago -- are dying.

Once again, Mariotti was playing fast and loose with the facts."

After a short detour that brings us the triumphant words of Hawk Harrelson, De Luca continues:

"The Sun-Times was a vibrant, relevant newspaper long before Mariotti arrived 17 years ago. It remains one today. The Sun-Times has built its reputation as being a bulldog covering the city and being the No. 1 source for sports and entertainment coverage. You want to know about the Cubs, Sox, Bears, Bulls or Blackhawks, you read the Sun-Times -- either off the rack or on the Internet.

Much to Mariotti's surprise, there are bigger names at the paper. Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper enjoy the kind of international following envied by journalists everywhere. Rick Telander has a national appeal Mariotti never could match. There are hardworking reporters, editors and photographers who come to work every day, do their jobs the right way and somehow remember they're just a small part of a very big team.

One page does not make a newspaper.

Telander weighed in on the news earlier in the day on the air with Charley Steiner, and from all accounts he doesn't seem to be shedding too many tears. In fact, he was so happy he could die -- or at least emulate a couple guys who died. Nevermind that for a moment, though.

I can't speak for the rest of my colleagues, but I am eternally grateful to De Luca for standing up for the rest of the staff who come into work each day, roll up their sleeves and strive to provide the best product they can to the readers. Most of them will never have a full page in a prime spot in the morning paper, but I've seen their hard work in action. People going the extra mile without demanding the extra pay is common fare. As a young journalist, there has never been a time when someone has declined to mentor me. Those are the scenes that can get washed away when a co-workers compares your company to the Titanic and those are the ones that De Luca alludes to.

It continues:

"Not once in the last eight years can I recall seeing Mariotti in the Cubs' or Sox' clubhouse. With a press credential that allowed him access to every major sporting event and every major figure, he hasn't broken a single story in that time. He says Chicago is a weak market, the competitive edge gone. He has only himself to blame.

When Lou Piniella was hired by the Cubs, the Sun-Times reported it first. Mariotti had no role in that major story. He says the market has gone soft. If that's true, he played as big a role in the softening as anyone else.

He called his colleagues soft, forgetting we're the ones who had to face his targets on a daily basis. We were the ones who had to deal with the anger that he was too cowardly to face himself. We got the quotes that made up the bulk of his columns.

In spinning his story to the Chicago Tribune, Mariotti depicted the Sun-Times as the Titanic, and it was clear the self-proclaimed tough guy was knocking over the old women and children to be the first to jump ship.

''I'm a competitor, and I get the sense this marketplace doesn't compete,'' said Mariotti, who will remain a regular contestant on an ESPN game show.

''Probably the days of high-stakes competition in Chicago are over. To see what has happened in this business ... I don't want to go down with it.''

Stand-up guy to the end.

"Contestant" on an ESPN game show? Surely he means "panelist"? It's probably about this time that Mariotti would kindly ask Tony Reali to hit the mute button on this (what's the opposite of puff piece?), which coincidently, was promptly and flawlessly placed on our Web site right on time.

If at this point you're wondering if maybe this is just sour grapes from a fellow reporter, De Luca clinches it with the words of Sun-Times editor Michael Cooke:

"We wish Jay well and will miss him -- not personally, of course -- but in the sense of noticing he is no longer here, at least for a few days,'' Cooke said. ''A paper, like a sports franchise, is something that moves into the future. Stars come and stars go, but the Sun-Times sports section was, is and will continue to be the best in the city.''

I fully expect the internets are absolutely going to explode when people wake up and read this. There is absolutely zero chance that this is anywhere close to being over.

"Around the Horn" should be interesting tomorrow. Buy or sell?

UPDATE: Roman Modrowski confirms why Mariotti really left.

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Our former Sun-Times colleague and ESPN "Around the Horn" contributor Jay Mariotti won't be joining the ranks of the Chicago Tribune, according to an article on the paper's Web site.Mariotti told the Trib, whose writers were often the target of... Read More

8 Comments

Marriot is a fool.....rat....bad journalist...he is what is wrong with journalism today....not a sports star but wants to be the sports story....hard to report if u are never on the clubhouse

Jay was a jerk. In his first column in Chicago, he attacked Jack McDowell for playing music and said this showed he was not taking his job seriously. He was part of a type of journalism that has had the effect of making the majority of people hate the media. This is a great day. First, Obama is nominated and then Jay is gone, it doesn't get any better.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. The guy was a loser from the word go. Anyone so negative about our city sports is a complete idiot. Plus the fact he never entered a locker room etc., shows that he was nothing more than a severe coward.

Seems to me the Sun-Times is the big hyprocite here. If you (and, seemingly, by extension, the Sun-Times) are so glad Mariotti is gone, why did you offer him a contract extension in the first place?

I always enjoyed his column. His job obviously was to stir up controversy and help sell newspapers, and he was good at it. Now you knock him for it? Pretty easy thing to do after the man leaves.

Kyle responds: In no way am I celebrating the fact that an immensely talented writer who sold a lot of papers is gone. Personally, Mariotti's columns were my favorite page of the paper and I'll read him wherever he lands. But if someone was spreading inaccuracies about you and your organization, wouldn't you be compelled to set the record straight? That's how I read De Luca's article.

Thanks for reading.

I believe the Sun-Times made a regrettable and serious error in ethics and judgment for having enabled Jay Mariotti to reign in such a prominent position for so long. While I respect Jay's writing abilities, his penchant for spite-filled pettiness would have had a far better audience in a high school girl's locker room than a major city newspaper. (Not that he has ever actually been in a locker room).

Jay held far too important of a position among Chicago's media elite to be such a negative, destructive and almost always pointless force. The next day's column would always pick up with the same themes as yesterday's, only with a newer target. His treatment of the White Sox after winning a World Series in Chicago no less, was that of a deranged loser.

It was clear that Jay held no interest in fairness, accuracy or balance, which should all be the ethical priorities of a responsible journalist. No, he will not be missed, and we are all worse off for allowing him to prosper for so long. Chicago journalism just took a major step forward this week.

The reason Mariotti was offered an extension was because he sold newspapers. In every profession there are jerks, but if they do their job successfully they will continue to be hired. What professional sport does not have players who are disliked by their teammates (i.e.Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds) yet continue to work because of their abilities.

I have only a couple of things to say about the resignation of the self-appointed "General Manager Of All Chicago Sports Teams".

Being an avid sports-fan and HS official in two sports, I could never understand how or why this gentleman could function in a major market with his style of journalism for that length of time. I guess that it was the the time during which he was hired. The S-T needed readers, was in a little trouble circulation-wise and looking for a new image. They hired a couple of "fresh" faces and writing styles and the sports section had a bit of an irreverent tenor to it. It was kinda cool.

When it became apparent that Mariotti's "scorched earth" style was prevalent in the overwhelming majority of his columns, I literally stopped LOOKING at the pages they were printed on - not even the ads!

Every once in awhile I'd hear about the controversy surrounding certain columns. I'd check it out to see if the reports about the columns were true. After all, I have been a subscriber to the paper for 32 years! What I always found was this: while nobody is beyond reproach, it was a little strange that he always managed to find something wrong with the World Series Champion White Sox, then with any Bears team good or bad. But it was pathetically absurd when he criticized 2-time, 3-time, 4-time, 5-time and 6-time NBA Champion Bulls. He attacked the Blackhawks (sometimes deservedly) and the local college teams. It seemed that he rarely ever had anything assertive or positive to say about anyone or anything.

Thank goodness he never picked on the high school teams' athletes.

To find out that he was almost never in the locker rooms and engaged in his rants without personally interviewing his "victims" is actually laughable.

How the Sun-Times could lend its credibility to someone so blatantly unprofessional is a little suprising. My hat is off to all of the hard-working, honest-to-goodness sports writers at the Sun-Times for remaining professional and dignified during this man's tenure at the paper.

Kudos to Chris DeLuca for reporting "the real story". I can't wait for the rebuttal (LOL).

The sad part for me is that now there is an hour a week I won't be able to watch ESPN.

first and foremost Mariotti held teams and players accountablem Chicago is just a weak sports town and willing to accept losing and ineptness thats why we worship losing teams and accept things like 1 world series ,1 super bowl champion,0 rings without Jordan ,no stanley cups in lord knows how long! if you think Jay was bad just think how the new york media would treat these teams and owners !

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle Koster published on August 28, 2008 12:19 AM.

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